Perpetual Chess Podcast



Perpetual Chess features weekly conversations with the Chess World's best players, promoters, and educators about their lives, careers, current projects, and best practices. Learn more at


  • EP.221 - Chris Callahan of

    EP.221 - Chris Callahan of

    06/04/2021 Duration: 01h13min

    This week we are joined by Chris Callahan, who is the Community Organizer of Lichess is a community supported, free, open-source, ad- and tracker-free chess site which plays host to over 5 million chess games per day. Back in 2017, I interviewed its founder, Thibault Duplessis, so it was past time to catch up on all that is new with this great site. It has been especially important during the past year as online chess has surged in popularity. We discussed everything from how they dealt with a huge traffic surge, to their capabilities in the area of cheating detection. We talked about the viability of their current business plan as well as  their future plans. Chris also delved a bit into his own chess background, and shared his unique perspective on scholastic chess teaching and chess improvement. It was fun to catch up with him and to learn more about this website on which so many of us enjoy playing on a daily basis.  0:00- Chris shares a bit about his chess background, what is new with L

  • EP.220 - Bruce Pandolfini

    EP.220 - Bruce Pandolfini

    30/03/2021 Duration: 01h12min

    Bruce Pandolfini is a trailblazer for American chess who is well known as a top scholastic coach, prolific author, and consultant on landmark chess productions like the 1993 movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer, and the 2020 smash hit Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. Bruce even served on the announcing team for PBS in the legendary 1972 Fischer vs. Spassky World Championship match.  With such a resume, obviously Bruce has accumulated a treasure trove of stories, and perspective. In our interview, Bruce drew on his experience as an early coach of future GM Fabiano Caruana and IM Josh Waitzkin to discuss the nature of chess talent, and he told stories of a few of his interactions with Bobby Fischer as a New Yorker of the same generation. Bruce also opined on the growth of and future of chess, and discussed his involvement in The Queen’s Gambit,  both the novel and the series. Obviously,I found this to be an entertaining and informative interview, and I hope that you will as well. Please read on for more detail

  • EP.219 - Tunde Onakoya (founder of Chess in Slums)

    EP.219 - Tunde Onakoya (founder of Chess in Slums)

    23/03/2021 Duration: 01h05min

    Twenty-six  year-old Tunde Onakoya is one of the top 50 chess players in his native Nigeria (rated 2165 FIDE), and is the founder of a life-changing organization called Chess in Slums. This organization introduces chess to kids in the slums of Lagos, Nigeria, and uses the game as a learning tool to instill confidence and teach critical thinking. It's a much-needed program, because the kids learning about chess are often unable to go to school due to financial or other life circumstances. As Tunde tells us, he was one of those kids not that long ago. Tunde credits chess with changing his life and aims to do the same for the next generation. Tunde is also a musician, a tech aficionado, a speed chess lover, and he has a university degree in Computer Science. Despite his many talents, it is his work bringing chess to kids that inspires him the most, and Tunde joined me amidst a week where a swarm of media attention had helped convince him to devote even more time and energy to the Chess in Slums cause. Tunde tell

  • Book Recap: Discussing Secrets of Practical Chess and Attacking the Strongpoint

    Book Recap: Discussing Secrets of Practical Chess and Attacking the Strongpoint

    19/03/2021 Duration: 01h35min

    After a one month hiatus, Chess Books Recaptured is back to discuss two chess books, Grandmaster Igor Zaitsev’s Attacking the Strongpoint, and GM John Nunn’s Secrets of Practical Chess. The guest co-host this month is a regular visitor of the show, cognitive scientist and USCF Master Christopher Chabris. As we discuss, these books tackle chess study from opposite perspectives, as GM Zaitsev’s book has a very philosophical tone, while GM Nunn’s classic lives up to its promise of giving lots of practical advice for chess competitors. Of course, there is much to be learned from both books, and it is always a pleasure to talk chess with Dr. Chabris. Please read on for more details and timestamps.  Click here to download the Episode  Episode 95 with Christopher Chabris  Episode 187 with Christopher Chabris  Book Recap: Think Like a Grandmaster by Kotov  Attacking the Strongpoint: The Philosophy of Chess by GM Igor Zaitsev  Secrets of Practical Chess by GM John Nunn   0:00- How did we choose these two books

  • EP.218 - GM Max Illingworth

    EP.218 - GM Max Illingworth

    16/03/2021 Duration: 01h16min

    GM Max Illingworth is one of Australia’s top players and is the 2 time national Australian Champion among other distinctions. in recent years, Max has shifted his focus from competing to training. His work ethic has evident, as in the last years ce co-authored the book, Dismantling the Sicilian, contributes actively on Facebook chess forums, and has launched his own training site, Illingworth Chess Academy. In our interview, we dive deep into the topic of chess improvement, and Max provides a lot of good insights about how he became so strong at tournament chess, blitz chess, and even the chess variant called Crazyhouse! Please read on for all of the details and timestamps.    0:00- We begin by discussing Max’s approach to adapting the right mindset for chess.   Mentioned: Facebook Chess Endgame Studies and Composition Group, IM Cyrus Lakdawala, Chess Improvement: Its All in the Mindset, 8:30- Max discusses his affinity for a chess variant called Crazyhouse 10:30- What did Max do to raise his online blit

  • EP.217 - IM to GM Special Episode with IMs Lawrence Trent, Sean Nagle and Attila Turzo

    EP.217 - IM to GM Special Episode with IMs Lawrence Trent, Sean Nagle and Attila Turzo

    09/03/2021 Duration: 02h10min

    This week’s podcast is a special feature that includes three different IM guests who are working to attain the Grandmaster title! My guests are popular commentator,  IM Lawrence Trent, 9-time Minnesota State Champion IM Sean Nagle,  and Hungary-based chess trainer,  IM Attila Turzo. These guests have very different backgrounds, chess distances to travel and life situations, but they all share the common goal of wanting to earn the highest title in chess. Why is it important to them? What do they need to improve in order to climb this final steep step? What will their study routines entail? I know that many of you will also be pursuing new chess milestones and goals post-pandemic, so I hope that you find some good advice and inspiration in these 3 interviews! Please read on for more details and timestamps for each interview.    0:00- Intro Mentioned: IM Kostya Kavutskiy, IM Eric Rosen, IM Kassa Korley, IM John Bartholomew, IM Greg Shahade, IM Abimanyu Mishru, IM Christopher Yoo, IM Carissa Yip    5:00- Pe

  • EP.216 - Dr. Jana Krivec

    EP.216 - Dr. Jana Krivec

    02/03/2021 Duration: 01h22min

    This week Dr. Jana Krivec joins me. She is the seven-time Woman’s National Champion of Slovenia.  Jana is also a Professor of Psychology at the School of Advanced Social Studies in Nova Gorica, Slovenia. She has recently released a book that synthesizes her interests in chess and brain science. Her book,  Improve Your Life by Playing a Game, gives a rundown of the many psychological issues that chess players often confront, and offers actionable advice on how we all can improve our study habits and our approaches to playing chess. I had a good time speaking with Dr. Krivec, and I think that you will enjoy the interview. Please read on for more details and timestamps.    0:00- We begin by discussing the cognitive biases that are most prevalent amongst chess players.  Mentioned: Adult Improver interview with Dr. Vishnu Sreekumar, (The book recap I mentioned with Dr. Christopher Chabris will be out later this month) , The Dunning Kruger Effect, Emanuel Lasker, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman    15

  • EP.215 - Dr. Vishnu Sreekumar (Adult Improver Series)

    EP.215 - Dr. Vishnu Sreekumar (Adult Improver Series)

    23/02/2021 Duration: 01h25min

    We are back with  another Adult Improver Edition of Perpetual Chess. My guest, Vishnu Sreekumar, is a 35 year-old cognitive scientist and dad, who has been dedicating many hours to studying and playing chess since he rediscovered his love for the game in 2018. There have been plenty of obstacles along the way, but Vishnu has had great success, as his USCF rating has  risen from 1675 to 1954 in the 1.5 years preceding the onset of Covid’s changes to all of our lives.  During this period  he has continued to work on his chess, although unfortunately work responsibilities and a pending move back to his native India may soon slow down his chess schedule. Vishnu is also a classically-trained pianist. This background gives him even more perspective on the field of adult learning. So between the chess talk and the neuroscience talk, there is a lot to learn from Vishnu. Please read on for many more details and timestamps.    0:00- Vishnu shares a bit about his background and his beginnings in chess, as well as his

  • EP.214 - GM Vlastimil Hort

    EP.214 - GM Vlastimil Hort

    16/02/2021 Duration: 01h14min

    Czech grandmaster Vlastimil Hort  was among the world's best players in the 1960s, '70s, and into the mid-'80s. Born in Czechoslovka, the five-time national Czech champion emigrated to West Germany in 1985  and was subsequently the 3 time West German national champ.  GM Hort has played against most World Champions of the modern era, and has memorable stories about Bobby Fischer,  Boris Spassky, Paul Keres, and countless others.  GM Hort is also the co-author of the classic instructional book, The Best Move, and his latest book,  My Chess Stories, 64 Stories From His Life Near the Top in Chesshas recently been translated to English. GM Hort reflects on a few of the standout stories in our interview, including how a bribe at a chess tournament in Tunis helped him escape Czechoslovakia in 1985.  He also gives us the details of his less-than-pleasant interactions with GM Mikhail Botvinnik. So many fun stories below, and such an honor to speak with GM Hort. Please read on for timestamps and more details.  In addi

  • EP.213 - IM Greg Shahade returns again

    EP.213 - IM Greg Shahade returns again

    09/02/2021 Duration: 01h17min

    In an annual tradition, IM Greg Shahade returns to the show. Greg is the founder of the Pro Chess League as well as the US Chess School, and is a former scholastic champion turned adult-improving, dangerous speed chess specialist. His blitz rating hovers in the 2600-2700 range, and he has beaten the likes of GM Alexey Shirov and GM Praggnanandhaa in recent TItled Tuesday tournaments. Greg breaks down the secrets to his success- it turns out it has involved a lot of hard work on his openings! He also impart lessons from his success in order to help improving players lower on the rating ladder. Additional topics include:  the growth and evolution of chess, why Greg isn’t as vocal about his chess promotion ideas anymore, plus he answers a few fun Patreon mailbag questions. Whether you agree with Greg’s views of chess or not, its always fun to hear his perspective. Please read on for lots more details and timestamps.    Prior Interviews with IM Greg Shahade  Episode 1 Episode 55 Episode 1

  • EP.212 - IM John Donaldson returns again!

    EP.212 - IM John Donaldson returns again!

    02/02/2021 Duration: 01h44min

    In addition to being a strong player, and often the Captain of the US Olimpiad team, IM John Donaldson is a renowned chess historian and author. He has been researching the life of Bobby Fischer for over a decade, and he has been on the podcast in the past to discuss his prior publications on Fischer. Late in 2020, IM John Donaldson published his most comprehensive, and acclaimed Fischer work yet, Bobby Fischer and his World. This book was already named’s 2020 book of the year, despite some stiff competition in a stellar year for chess books. I greatly enjoyed John’s work, which is a combination of biography and game analysis. In our conversation, of course we discuss details of Fischer’s life in some detail, with a particular emphasis on the new details John has uncovered. We also take time to remember the life and legacy of John’s friend, legendary GM Lubomir “Lubosh” Kavalek, and to discuss the state of John’s own chess game. As always, you can get lots more details and related hyperlinks in the

  • Book Recap : The Seven Deadly Chess Sins by GM Jonathan Rowson

    Book Recap : The Seven Deadly Chess Sins by GM Jonathan Rowson

    29/01/2021 Duration: 01h27min

    Perpetual Chess is back with another monthly bonus edition of Chess Books Recaptured. This month  Chicago-based law professor, dad, and speed chess specialist, David Franklin joins me. Like me, David is a long-time fan of the writing of GM Jonathan Rowson, and of his 2000 book, The Seven Deadly Chess Sins, in particular.  Due to its  uniquely philosophical, digressive tone and its advanced chess subject matter, The Seven Deadly Chess Sins is not universally loved. Nonetheless, both podcast hosts and many other chess fans consider it to be a classic. In our conversation, we define and discuss each of GM Rowson’s 7 "chess sins", as well as sharing a bit of information about the author, the guest-co-host, and of course, a few of our favorite quotes. Please read on for many more details, links, and timestamps!   0:00- Why does David love this book? Why is this book somewhat polarizing despite many rave reviews?  Mentioned: Perpetual Chess Episode 193 with Tom Murphy, Adult Improver Episode 151 with JJ Lang   

  • EP.211 - IM Andras Toth

    EP.211 - IM Andras Toth

    26/01/2021 Duration: 01h53min

    IM Andras Toth is a Canberra, Australia-based chess trainer who has built a loyal online following due to his no-nonsense YouTube chess videos and popular Chessable courses. Andras originally hails from Hungary, where he trained under the same trainer as the Polgar sisters and  was the two-time Hungarian Junior Champ. Andras’ background as a school teacher is evident in his engaging and energetic teaching style. As is clear from our conversation, Andras is not shy about expressing his hard-earned chess opinions. Andrey answers questions such as, should you play the London System?--do you need to hire a coach?--can one improve by focusing only on chess calculation?-- plus many more pertinent queries. This was a fun conversation that revealed many insights about chess improvement. Please read on for more details and relevant hyperlinks.     0:00- Andras begins by discussing his chess and chess-training background a bit.  Mentioned: IM Laszlo Hazai, The Polgar Sisters 0:8:15- Does Andras agree that club

  • Bonus Pod - GM Lubomir Kavalek (2003 Interview with Fred Wilson)

    Bonus Pod - GM Lubomir Kavalek (2003 Interview with Fred Wilson)

    21/01/2021 Duration: 01h36min

    As chess fans may have heard, legendary GM Lubomir “Lubosh” Kavalek passed away this week at the age of 77. GM Kavalek was a fierce, attacking player, who at his rating peak, was a top 10 player in the world. He was two-time winner of the Czechoslovak National Championship, and after emigrating from Czechoslovakia, he went on to become US National Champion three times as well. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to interview GM Kavalek, but Fred Wilson has given me permission to share with you all a long audio interview that he did with GM Kavalek. The interview took place on September 10, 2003. In this conversation, they cover many of the highlights of GM Kavalek’s illustrious career as a player, trainer, and author. They discuss Kavalek’s beginnings in chess, and his work helping with the World Championship matches of Bobby Fischer (against Spassky in 1972), and assisting GM Nigel Short against Kasparov in 1993. In listening to this interview, I was struck by the wit and personality of GM Kavalek.  You

  • EP.210 - Tom Vanderbilt

    EP.210 - Tom Vanderbilt

    12/01/2021 Duration: 01h03min

    This week, bestselling author Tom Vanderbilt joins me to talk about his 5th book, the recently released, Beginners:The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning. In this book Tom writes about his experience  learning a handful of new activities from scratch while in his late 40’s. These new adventures include learning chess, surfing, singing, juggling and drawing. Tom, like many adult chess enthusiasts, discovered chess through his school-aged daughter’s interest in the game. In our conversation, Tom reflects on what was like to be thrown headfirst into the chess world, and shares many of the resources that he found most helpful in accelerating his learning. Tom also shares broader conclusions from his learning experiences across disciplines. It was a fascinating conversation about an enjoyable book. As always, read on for more details, timestamps and relevant hyperlinks.  0:00- Why is the pandemic a good time to release a book about starting new things?  Mentioned: NY Times review of Beginners 

  • EP.209 - Martin Justesen (Adult Improver Series)

    EP.209 - Martin Justesen (Adult Improver Series)

    05/01/2021 Duration: 01h13min

    Welcome to another Adult Improver Edition of Perpetual Chess. My guest is Martin Justesen, who is a 34 year, Denmark-based father of 3. He works as an archivist in the Library of the Danish Parliament, but devotes a lot of his free time to chess improvement and chess-related projects. His efforts have paid off, as Martin has gained a few hundred points in the past years. Prior to the pandemic, Martin had ended a long plateau, as his Danish rating went from 1600 to 1820. During the covid shutdown, he has seen continued improvement, his Lichess classical rating is now up to 2200! In our interview, Martin reveals what he thinks to be the key contributors to his improvement success. Martin is also a blogger,  and has recently released a great new book called, Blindfold Endgame Visualization: 50 Chess Positions. We also discuss how Martin decided to take on this project and why we think that it’s an important study tool. Please read on for lots more details, timestamps, and relevant hyperlinks. 0:00- We begi

  • Book Recap: Simple Chess by GM Michael Stean

    Book Recap: Simple Chess by GM Michael Stean

    01/01/2021 Duration: 01h24min

    We are back with another bonus podcast edition of Chess Books Recaptured. This month I am joined by Jonathan of The Abysmal Depths of Chess Blog to discuss a classic book, Simple Chess, by GM Michael Stean. Simple Chess is an excellent positional primer which features succinct and helpful annotations for the club player. Over the past couple of months, Jonathan has been blogging about each of the 30 games in the book, so he knows the material inside and out, and I was very glad to have him share some highlights of what he has learned from studying Simple Chess so thoroughly. As always, we discussed improvement takeaways, favorite quotes and lessons distilled from this excellent book. You can get all of the details, timestamps and hyperlinks below.    0:00- Why did Jonathan volunteer to discuss Simple Chess?  Mentioned: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Perpetual Chess Episode 201 with FM Peter Giannatos, Perpetual Chess Episode 195 With GM Keith Arkell,  The Chess Dojo ranks: Classic Chess Books: http

  • EP.208 - FM Andrey Terekhov

    EP.208 - FM Andrey Terekhov

    29/12/2020 Duration: 01h26min

    This week’s guest on Perpetual Chess is FM Andrey Terekhov, who has recently released the book, The Life and Games of Vasily Smyslov. (With Foreword by Peter Svidler!) This biography about the 7th World Champion is an excellent book that has critics raving. The book features both game analysis and biographical details, and our conversation also covers both life details, as well as takeaways for adult improvers from Smyslow’s games. Andrey had access to Smylov’s private archive and has been laboring during nights and weekends on this book for years. Away from the board, Andrey  has a Ph.D. in computer science, and works for Microsoft in its Singapore office. Andrey is also a devoted dad, and of course, an active chess player when time permits. Thanks to Andrey for sharing so many details from this great, multi-volume project! Please read on for more details, timestamps, and relevant hyperlinks.    0:00- To join or find out more about the North American Corporate Chess League, go here: https://www.nacorporat

  • EP.207 - Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam

    EP.207 - Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam

    22/12/2020 Duration: 01h08min

    Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam is a Dutch  chess journalist, organizer and commentator who is best known as the Editor-in-Chief of New In Chess magazine.  New in Chess Magazine has been the industry leading chess magazine for decades and is known for its on-the-scenes reporting of major events, its high-level Grandmaster analysis of games, and insightful interviews and book reviews. In conjunction with his work for New in Chess, Dirk Jan has travelled the world and shared conversations and meals with many of the games most revered figures. In our conversation, Dirk shared several of the amazing stories he has collected over the years, and also discussed how New in Chess is being affected by the pandemic and the chess boom.  Please read on for more details and the timestamps.  0:00- How have the pandemic and the online chess boom affected New in Chess, which as the preeminent chess print magazine often devotes lots of pages to elite OTB chess tournaments? GM Alireza Firouzja, GM Wesley So, Magnus Carlsen interview w

  • EP.206 - FM Carsten Hansen returns

    EP.206 - FM Carsten Hansen returns

    15/12/2020 Duration: 01h17min

    Returning guest, FM Carsten Hansen, is one of the busiest chess authors in the business, as he writes a tactics column for Chess Life Magazine, a book review column for American Chess Magazine, and is a prolific chess author in his own right. Carsten has recently released a new book,  Marvellous Modern Miniatures, and has also collaborated with popular co-author, IM Christof Sielecki for the Chessable course, Lifetime Repertoires 1.c4 1.Nf3 Part 1. As 2020 nears a conclusion, I thought it would be a great time to catch up with Carsten on his new projects, the year in chess books, and on his own dreams of attaining the IM title as he nears the age of 50. Please read on for more details and timestamps of all that we discussed.  0:00- What is Carsten doing to work on his own chess game? Mentioned: Perpetual Chess Episode 84 with FM Carsten Hansen- , GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Loek Van Wely, GM Alexander Stripuns

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